They say that only two things are certain in this life: death and taxes. In my world, there are two more certainties: Dave would like tacos for dinner, and Dave would like cheesecake for dessert. Any day, any occasion, any time. I almost don’t bother adding anything else to the options. Why offer Beef Wellington when he’d rather eat tacos? And what good would it do for me to add eclairs to the dessert line-up, or chocolate cream pie, or creme brulee? As long as “cheesecake” is in the same sentence, cheesecake it is. So it’s probably not a surprise to learn that when I asked him what he’d like to me to make to go along with Sunday dinner (which was beef stroganoff, in case you’re curious … and that’s only because I didn’t ask him what he’d like for dinner), he said the “C” word.
Here’s my version of cheesecake, tweaked and fine-honed after years and years and years of being married to a man who loves it:
New York Cheesecake
- 1 sleeve Graham crackers (about 9 crackers), crushed
- 3 TBSP melted butter
- 32 ounces cream cheese (4 boxes)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 TBSP flour
- dash salt
- 1 TBSP vanilla
- 2/3 cup milk
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup sour cream
For the crust, just crush up the graham crackers (I put them in a ziploc baggie and beat the daylights out of them with my wooden mallet) and add to the melted butter. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan. You really need the springform pan, because otherwise, it’s not going to be fun later. And don’t worry if the crust doesn’t go too far up the sides of the pan. Just do your best to press it as evenly as you can.
For the filling, beat the cream cheese in your mixer to soften. Add sugar and blend well. (Note: at no time in the cheesecake making process are you hoping or trying to whip the mixture. Don’t over mix, but don’t under mix, either. You don’t want any big chunks of cream cheese in the finished product, but if you whip too much air in there, it’s not going to turn out right.)
Next, add the flour and the dash of salt and mix slightly. Add the vanilla and mix again.
Add the milk and blend just until incorporated. Then add the eggs one by one, mixing slightly after each — just enough to blend them in.
Finally, add the sour cream and blend just until everything is blended and smooth.
Pour the filling mixture into the crust and bake in a 350 oven for one hour. When the hour is up, turn off the oven, but don’t open the oven door. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for a minimum of four hours, then chill in fridge for a minimum of four hours.
People often advise you to bake the cheesecake in a water bath … and I suppose there is some merit to that. But I’ve never done it that way, and there’s never been a bite of cheesecake leftover. If any cracks develop, or if the cheesecake sinks a little in the middle, well … that’s what fruit toppings were invented for.
Mixed Berry Topping
(Note: I don’t measure any of this, so I’m just going to give you some estimates.)
- About 4 cups of mixed berries: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, huckleberries. Whatever you have
- Sugar to taste (start with 1/4 cup and add more if needed)
- Juice and zest of 1/2 orange
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/2 tsp
- Cornstarch to thicken (if needed. Dissolve 2 tsp cornstarch in a little water and add to fruit)
Mix ingredients up to cornstarch (wait on that to see if you’ll need it). Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. You can serve this warm or cold.
Fruit loves cheesecake.
Anyone care for a bite?